Today, WordPress staggeringly provides the building blocks for more than 60 million active websites. Impressive, right? This makes it the most used content management system out there, and there are plenty of reasons why. Providing almost limitless versatility, WordPress holds the power to propel your business to dizzying heights! But, before getting carried away, it is worth noting that there are some potential pitfalls on the path to greatness. As with any great tool, a degree of artistry is required – so here we will address ten missteps that you want to avoid, and the actions that will keep you flying along on your WordPress journey!
1. Declutter That Dashboard
Failing to keep your WordPress dashboard tidy is a bit like not cleaning the house for months, and then realising that you are living in a dump just as your mother in law pops round for a cup of tea unannounced. Fundamentally, letting things pile up leaves space for getting caught out, or missing something important! Tidy things up by uninstalling old or unused themes and plugins. Stay on top of comments and trackbacks with a strict publish or delete policy. Run updates whenever they become available and keep your WordPress core current. Make it your Zen place when you log in and see zero issues pending and waiting to be addressed.
2. Harness The SEO Fundamentals
Deep diving into the intricacies of SEO can be a little overwhelming, but this is no reason to bury your head. Instead, focus first and foremost on mastering the fundamentals. From there, you can decide how much further down the SEO rabbit hole you want to go! Make sure your permalinks act as handy signposts for Google from the get-go. If your site is already up and running and you didn’t do this yet, perhaps recruit some expert help to remedy this foundational issue. Next, make the Yoast SEO plugin your new best friend. This incredibly easy to use plugin will help you get your pages on-point, and you won’t have to remember the what’s, whys, and where’s. Google will reward your efforts!
3. Speed Things Up
The research is crystal clear: your customers do not want to wait. A mere second of delay on your site will lead to a 7% drop in conversions. 70% of customers say that site speed impacts their purchasing choices, while a five second delay in loading time will land you with a 37% bounce rate. Ouch! You can see if you are sabotaging your income with poor site speed with the help of Pingdom, a speed assessment tool. This will help you explore which of your pages are burning rubber, and which have a wonky wheel. As a rule of thumb, up to two seconds is epic, three to four is A-OK, five to seven is a little ‘meh’, while any more than that is a ringing alarm bell. Make things zippier by compressing images, enlisting a caching plugin if your host doesn’t already provide it, and turn the spotlight on your host. We will come back to that in a minute!
4. Roll Out Some Epic Content
Let us start by expelling a fallacy. Everyone loves to use Kevin Costner’s line from Field Of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” The original line actually said, “he will come”, but we’re all really fond of the miss-quote. Anyway – I digress! The point to grasp here is that as much as you might like that line, it is way off the mark when it comes to websites. Google wants fresh and varied content, and so should you. Look at it this way: your WordPress site can become a hub of genuine value if you make it so. Choose to use brilliant content to create a virtual space that your audience loves to visit, people love to discover, and Google loves to rank. All of this will mean more chances to convert, and more profit at the end of the day.
5. Get Serious About Security
Thanks to its immense popularity, WordPress is a prime target for the immoral. Sloppy security practices will leave your site exposed to potential threats and may leave you facing a messy situation if someone gets in uninvited. A lot of potential tripping points are not rocket science, and yet many overlook them. Choose to use Schwarzenegger-esque ironclad passwords. Create a new admin user and ditch the original. Make sure you’ve got a decent automated back-up set in motion and use a reputable security plugin if your host doesn’t provide their own set of tools.
6. Choose Quality For Long-Term Success
When it comes to themes and plugins, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. We understand that your business may have a tight budget – and there are loads of great free options available for WordPress, but these resources are not all created equal. Do your research before installing anything new and recognise that sometimes quality is well worth the investment. Paying out for a high-calibre option may reward you handsomely via the resulting sheen of your WordPress site.
7. Capture Great Data
Your WordPress site is a conduit to your audience, and you mustn’t let them come and go without offering any potential touchpoints. Placing another big foundation stone, make sure you have an email capture form present and accounted for. Consider creating landing pages to encourage sign-ups using the dangling carrot of a reward. Use a nifty email Marketing tool like Mailchimp to make those email addresses work for you.
8. Dig Into Your Performance Analytics
You cannot possibly hope to improve your WordPress site if you don’t know how it’s performing, so set aside the time to take a seat and get acquainted. There are many potential stats to track if you take the time to lift the lid. Consult with the big guns via Google’s own analytics tools, use Pingdom as mentioned above, integrate with Mailchimp and get another angle from there. Try GTMetrix too. By getting a grasp of how visitors are interacting with your website you will be able to identify what you’re doing well, where there is room for improvement, and when there’s something funky going down – and I mean the bad kind of funk!
9. Choose The Host With The Most
The host you choose for your WordPress site is going to play a make-or-break role in its future success, so choose wisely. This decision will likely be the biggest factor for your site’s performance, so make sure they are WordPress specific, performance-oriented, and that their reputation precedes them. As your online empire progresses, make sure you are at the right step on the ladder in terms of hosting package too.
10. Don’t Neglect To Clean Out Back-Of-House
Just as your dashboard can get all cluttered up, the part of WordPress you don’t see, such as the databases behind it – can also wind up full of junk files. Accessing your MySQL database is strictly for expert hands, as there is a lot to break back there. There are some plugins that can help you with a spring clean, such as WP-DBManager and WP-Optimize, but if your site is feeling clunky, teaming up with a trusty web developer can give you peace of mind that whatever’s clogging things up is handled just right!